Always, Katie: 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shop Talk: Custom Family Tree Pendants

These aren't in the etsy shop, so I'm cheating a little bit on the "Shop Talk" title. :-)  

If you're looking for a touching, personalized gift for a mom or grandma (or great grandma!) in your life, this might be just the pendant you're looking for!

This is a finished product for a customer... the bigger crystals are the birthstones for the recipient's children, and the smaller crystals represent her grandchildren. I added green aventurine chips as filler, to look like leaves.  What mom/grandma/great-grandma wouldn't love a sparkly reminder of all of their blessings?

Depending on how many crystals I use, they cost $12, $15, $18 or $21, and I can add a silver-plated chain for another dollar.  If you're interested, shoot an email to and we can chat!  


Friday, September 28, 2012

Fertility Friday: Ka-Ching

It is no secret that infertility is expensive.  And don't get me started on how brutally unfair that is.  Or how unfair it is that most employers don't provide insurance coverage for infertility treatments.  

Ethan's insurance covers $1000 of infertility treatment or testing (after diagnosis) per LIFETIME.  We used that up in one blood test, so now we have no.coverage.  

Our doctor has made it perfectly clear that our only chance at me carrying a baby is through in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)... THE most expensive treatment option.  My daddy always said I have expensive taste. ;-)

One cycle is going to cost in the ballpark of $15k, not including the drugs.  And we have NO.GUARANTEES that that cycle will work.  Or, we can use a program offered by Attain Fertility, where we pay a slightly higher price for four tries (2 fresh, 2 frozen)... or the shared-risk program where we pay quite a bit more for six cycles and a money-back guarantee.  Whichever way we go, we're going to need to be able to save a LOT of money.  And we're still paying rent AND mortgage, so saving is going to be really tough for a while. 

We've toyed with the idea of fundraising, and currently I have a line in all of my etsy listings stating that all proceeds are going to our IVF fund.  I'm thinking about a silent auction of my jewelry and baked goods, and maybe some other handmade things friends and family donate.  

But, I think my best idea so far is a kissing booth

Charley is even cuter than this pup!  I think he could earn enough to get a baby brother or sister for himself!  


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Season's Greetings: A Witnessing Opportunity and a Free Printable

Let's talk trick-or-treat. 

I LOVED trick-or-treating.  But one thing that could always bum me out was a household that passed out tracts instead of candy.  Not that there is a THING in the WORLD wrong with passing out tracts!  Trick-or-treat is a great time to come in contact with a bunch of kids and families you might otherwise have never had the opportunity to share your faith with.  Candy AND a tract? Awesome.  

Fast forward a few years to my college days, and I loved the tradition of "Safe Trick-or-Treat" when hundreds of the little kids of Oxford, Ohio would come trouping through the halls of my dorm and a bunch of college kids (some in costumes) (as in, me) would pass out candy. 

I came up with this little label idea back then, because I couldn't afford, on a college kid's budget, both candy and tracts, and I REFUSED to be the stodgy one who only gave out tracts.  These labels print 30 to a page (Avery 5160), so they're cheap and cute, and a good way of sharing God's love.  

I want to share these with you, so you can share the Gospel with the kiddies and families in your neighborhood.  I think I figured out a free and easy way to do so (thanks to the hubby who is WAY smarter about online stuff than I am!).  You shouldn't have to register or enter personal info or anything... if it doesn't work out like that, let me know... I'll email the .pub to ya!

Just go to my dropbox, download the Publisher document, print these out and stick them on good candy.  GOOD CANDY!  You're witnessing here, no nasty Bottlecaps or Dots or Almond Joy!!! The kids will be excited - good candy has that effect on them... the parents just may look up the unfamiliar Bible reference.  John 3:16 would have been an appropriate choice for this project, but I wanted a verse that people wouldn't necessarily glance at and ignore.  I'm betting more people who don't know the Lord know John 3:16 than know Titus 3:4-7.  In this case, curiosity could be a good thing!  It may lead people to open up a Bible that's gathering dust or even google the Good News.  :-)



"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."  (NIV)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Season's Greetings: Fall Leaves Door Initial

Today, I'm sharing a project I did last year.  

I made one of these for us, one for my in-laws and one for my grandparents.  But... I left ours in Ohio. :-(  So, I decided to make a new one and take pictures for a tutorial!  I have to admit, though... I took the slightly cheaper way out, and bought the most inexpensive supplies I could find.  I still love my Ohio "H" and didn't want to permanently replace it.  That being said, I made this for under $5... not bad for a pretty cute little door dec!

Gather supplies: 
~ A wooden letter.  Mine is from Hobby Lobby.  The simpler the shape, the better.  You'll see how the serifs on mine don't show up.
~ Some leaves.  I got a bag for about a dollar from Michaels... for my "nicer" one, I think I ended up with a vine from Hobby Lobby.  It had leaves of different sizes and types, as well as some berries and acorns.  Go as all-out as you want :-) 
~ Ribbon.  For the hanger.
~  Glue Gun
~ Scissors 
 ~ Optional: World's cutest scarecrow.  From Michaels... he's definitely getting pulled off this one and added to our gorgeous "H" from home.
Now... sort your leaves by size and color.

Lay them out on your letter... you want to put the larger leaves on the bottom, and vary the directions they face... I think, technically, the stems always point downwards when leaves fall.  Not sure WHY I think this... but that's what I stuck with.  Also, make sure to cover all of the wood on the letter... my serifs made this a little tough.  

Glue them down.

Add any little acorns, berries, scarecrows :-)

Glue ribbon to the back of the letter for hanging.

Simple, and adorable!!!  This would be great on a front door, of course, but what about a dorm door?  Or let each kid have their own initial on their bedroom door! 

And here is a picture my father-in-law sent of theirs, so you can see one with the "nicer" leaves and such :-)  Sorry for the kinda low resolution... but you get the idea!

Happy fall, y'all!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Whatever Wednesday: I'm THAT Puppy-Mom

As long as my only child is a fuzzy one, this is happening.  And - honestly - probably after the less-fuzzy kids come, too. ;-)

This is last year's costume...

He seems to like the dragon better... probably because it doesn't have sleeves.  We didn't think to costume shop until the last minute when he was just a few months old... and the only thing we could find in his size was a "mounted moose" costume.  Nope, not for my adorable new baby!

I just found out that we probably won't have any trick-or-treaters this year.  I'm kinda surprised... I'd have thought, especially for the kids who live here, an apartment complex would be a great place to trick-or-treat... lots of homes REALLY close together.  Oh well.  I'll keep a couple of candy bars handy, and a dog dressed up just in case :-)  Fortunately, he's full grown, so these costumes should still fit when we're in a house again.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Shop Talk: Making Up for Lost Time

Sorry I missed last week's shop update!  I can WAY more than make up for it today, though, with a LOT of new jewelry for sale... and a COUPON CODE to celebrate the flood of new listings!

First up, one of my favorite things I've made in a while... the "Amalfi" bracelet.  I named it after a beautiful place we visited on our honeymoon. It's made up of a bunch of fun gemstones and tiny crystals, and I just adore it!

Next, the "Whirlpool" collection.  Or, what I've made of it so far.  In the future, expect some earrings with crystal drops and maybe even a whole bracelet!

Here is the "old" addition to the etsy shop... a necklace I showed off here a long, long time ago, and finally made another just like mine to offer for sale :-)  It's classic and romantic... so I named it "Victoria."

I think this bracelet is fun and quirky and definitely a unique look!  It also features crystals in one of this autumn's hottest colors, Bright Chartreuse.  Hip to Be Square

This is another style I have made frequently in the past but am just now putting in the shop.  This one is SUPER-customizable, thanks to Swarovski's amazing range of colors.  Perfect for bridesmaids' earrings!  And, if Juliet Capulet had had access to Swarovski crystals... you KNOW she'd have fallen for these "Juliet" earrings.  :-)


Last for today... the "Dazzle" bracelet in clear and Siam crystal.  A spiffy Christmas gift for the sparkle lover in your life, right? 

And finally, as promised... a coupon code.  Good for 15% off your order from Always, Katie on, through Sunday night, the 23rd.  


Share with your friends... hubby... anybody who loves jewelry or who might be persuaded to buy some for you ;-)  My readership is kinda small, but y'all are great, and I appreciate you so very much!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Season's Greetings! (Autumn Recipe Roundup)

My Thursday feature is going to be "Season's Greetings."  I plan to do a few round-ups of recipes and crafts, as well as a few crafts of my own creation.  The fall season will be pretty short, since I'm wanting to start sharing CHRISTMAS stuff while it's still early enough to plan and implement some of what you'll read here.  

Today, I have rounded up 22 delicious-looking fall recipes, heavy on the apple and pumpkin, yummm... 

3. Pumpkin Pie Dip (and I LOVE the idea of serving it in a little hollow pumpkin!)

6. Pumpkin-Shaped Cake (Two bundts iced together - CLEVER!)
7. Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (I've done these... easy and way cool!)

13. Funnel Cake (Done this, LOVE IT!  Totally comes out as yummy as anything at a fair!)
14. Layered Toffee Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pie (Made this for last Thanksgiving.  Also delish!)
15. Crescent Roll Apple Dumplings (I make this... oh... at least monthly.
16. Stove-Top Kettle Corn (Took me a couple batches to get this one figured out, but SO worth it.)

21. (Low-Calorie) Cream Cheese Icing Stuffed Pumpkin Bread (do you not want to weep at the beauty that is this idea? And low-cal? BOOyah!)

Next round-up, a bunch of crafty DIY-ish-ness!


Friday, August 31, 2012

Fertility Friday: Prayers for a Friend

Just a quick request...

A friend of mine is doing her first IUI today... please pray with me for her and her husband.  For a smooth procedure, peace for the two-week-wait, and - of course - good results! 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Very Pinteresting: Laundry Day!

I love Pinterest, and I've actually used several ideas I've found there.  Some of them worked out great, some notsomuch.  In my "Very Pinteresting" series, I'm going to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

I've been making my own laundry detergent for a couple of years, actually since before I got on Pinterest.  Well, to clarify, I made detergent once.  A LOT of detergent, for very little money.  I believe it was a triple batch, and it's still around!  It's a very basic powder recipe, and I keep it in these lovely glass jars from Hobby Lobby.  I love using it, and especially love that I haven't had to pay out the nose for store-bought detergent.  I reckon we've saved about $100 just in laundry detergent alone!

I use: 
2 bars of Ivory soap, grated
1C Borax  (in the laundry aisle)
1C Washing Soda (NOT baking soda... find this in the laundry aisle, too)
Grate the Ivory with the grater attachment of your food processor, if you have one.  If not, do it with a cheese grater. Toss it in the food processor, pour in the Borax and Washing Soda, and let it go for a nice, long spin.  Make as many full batches as you can with the materials on hand, pour the powder (it will be a little clumpy, no big deal) into a jar of some sort and toss in a tablespoon.  Use one TBS per load.  

The slight downside to this detergent is that it doesn't make your laundry smell (not bad... not good... not at ALL).  I was fine with this, but compensated with fabulous-smelling fabric softener and dryer sheets.  Until recently, when I started making my own fabric softener!!  

I got this recipe from a pin... and so far, I'm pleased with it. I keep it in a beverage thingy that I found on end-of-summer clearance at Walmart, the kind that has the little spout thing.  

6C water
3C white vinegar
2C hair conditioner (use something cheap, but awesome-smelling).  
I used V05 conditioner, I think it cost less than $1 per bottle, and I needed a whole bottle and a smidge from another.  Gently stir all of the ingredients in the bottle or tub you'll be using.  Fill the softener spot in your washer to the line - this isn't concentrated.  Your laundry will smell quite a bit better than just using the homemade detergent, but I still kinda love my wonderful dryer sheets. :-)  
These recipes are wonderful money-savers, and they do a great job.  I don't feel like I'm cutting corners, and I'm also proud to have made them myself.  I highly recommend these projects!
One Pinterest project that that did NOT work out so well for us is the gnat-trap on this page.  I don't know where these stupid little things came from, but I left this gnat trap out for well over 24 hours and it didn't catch a single.little.gnat.  :-(


Friday, August 24, 2012

Fertility Fridays: Back to School Blues

I've set up a schedule for myself for blogging, so that I don't focus too much on any one thing and neglect other stuff I truly want to blog about.  While I will probably treat the schedule as more of a guideline than a set-in-stone pattern, I do want to limit myself to only talking fertility woes once a week (at most).  While fertility and IVF are pretty dominant in my mind right now, there is much more to my life, and our life together, than this pain.  However, Friday is my day to let it out.  So here goes.

I've been googling a phrase over and over this week to see if any other infertiles out there were going through the same struggle this week that I am... I'm sure I'm not alone, but I couldn't find any other mentions of it.

Back to school STINKS! It stinks right up there with Mother's Day and Christmas!

As a professor's wife, it stinks because my summer of not sharing my husband with the university is over.  As an infertile woman, it stinks to log on to facebook and see all of the pictures of cute little kids with backpacks and excited faces, all of the moms talking about how much they miss their little ones during the days now, and especially the moms who CAN'T WAIT to send their darlings back to school.  For people our age, facebook has been overtaken by back to school!!

It's hard to feel left out of the loop, to not get to participate in the excitement, to not even be able to rock our baby and say, "At least we have a few more years until this one starts."  It's hard to realize that not only do our friends have kids and we don't, many of them have had kids long enough for them to be starting school.  Not only preschool, older grades with homework and multiple teachers!  Will we ever get to stand in a school supply aisle and debate the merits of purple glue sticks vs. plain white ones?  Will I ever get to respond to a homework question with, "I have no idea, ask your dad"? When am I going to get to use all of the awesome "pack your kids' lunch" pins I've pinned on Pinterest?!

It's especially hard when parents are griping that they cannot wait to send their kids back to school.  I want to slap them and tell them to CHERISH the summers -- and every minute -- with their kids, because people like us would do anything to be in their shoes! 

Don't get me wrong.. I love my friends' kids.  Several of them, I've even "adopted" as extra nieces and nephews.  I love watching them grow up, and absolutely expect that their parents will post pictures of their milestones, as they should, and as I will no doubt do if/when we're blessed with babies.  It's just sad.  

Anybody out there?  Can I get an "AMEN"?


PS: Next up is "Shop Talk" on Monday... I'll show off some new jewelry and etsy listings. :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This has been one WILD and CRAZY summer, y'all!!  We made (we think) 4 or 5 round trips between South Carolina and Ohio, trying to clean out, pack up and sell our house.  We thought we had buyers for it once... we rushed back to show it to them, after less than a week back home in SC... it fell through, so we called a realtor and have it officially listed.  And someone else gets to mess with showing the darn thing, haha!  

During one of our trips back to OH, one of my best friends got married!  She was one of my bridesmaids AND caught my bouquet.  And WAS the next to get married.  How cool is that?  I'm soooo excited for her!  She was a beautiful bride, and is going to be an amazing, Godly wife.

I also finished two grad classes... one required for my degree (Career Counseling) and the other because it's an interest and passion of mine (Crisis Counseling).  Turns out, the required one was easier and the "fun" one was super-stressful.  And I get a whole NIGHT off before fall semester starts in the morning!  I have enough credits to get the degree, but I'm still needing a couple more classes and an internship.  Still, I can't believe I have over 50 hours of graduate work completed.  To think I swore up and down in May 2009 that I would NEVER set foot in a classroom again!

I had a birthday... I'm now 25.  Which is weird, because I never quite got used to saying I'm 24.  But I was spoiled, and loved, and it was wonderful.

I did a BUNCH of teaching, which I'm super-excited about.  My job is ridiculously awesome, as are my students.  So fun to be in such a creative environment, and to see the really pretty ideas my students come up with... I love that the skills I teach can make such wildly different jewelry, depending on the personality and tastes of the artist!  It keeps me inspired and humbled.

We've had some big emotional ups and downs, with the house and our continued battle with infertility and diabetes.  My blood sugars have been pretty good - FABULOUS for me, actually - but my endocrinologist is very discouraging and demanding.  No amount of improvement is perfect, so it's not good enough.  But, I'm still hovering within a reasonable range to attempt advanced reproductive technology (ART).  For us, this means in vitro fertilization (IVF).  Our infertility specialist has told us that this is the only way I will be able to carry our baby, so we're in a holding pattern until we are ready to start the lovely hormone and medication cocktails.  We are looking at ways of financing these efforts right now, but that's another blog post :-) 

Now that the house is on the market, and we're planning on staying put for a few months, I will hopefully be able to post a few pieces of jewelry and some "Nailed It" Pinterest posts from time-to-time.  I stole any chance I got to try new things this summer, so I have some interesting stuff just waiting to be written about!!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crave-Worthy Apple Spread

We've both been trying to eat more fresh fruit and veggies, fewer carbohydrates (and preferably more measurable ones -- makes it easier to counter food with insulin), and more protein. 

One of our favorite fruits, and one that is lower on the glycemic index, is apples.  We bought a bunch the last time we went to the grocery, and have both been eating about one a day.  I have always LOVED peanut butter on my apples, and went through a phase in college of adding sunflower kernels to the mix.  Sunflower seeds are pretty high in protein, and I recently discovered they're folate-rich, too, so we grabbed a jar of those, too.

Which brings me to my little recipe.  Ordinarily, I would've just mixed some stuff randomly, but since I'm trying to be MILITANT about counting my carbs, I measured everything and ran it through an online calculator.  Here goes:

1C      Peanut Butter
1/4 C  Dry Roasted Sunflower Kernels
3T      Honey

Toss all of it in a food processor and send it for a good long spin.  It comes out looking a little unappetizing, but the smell and the TASTE more than make up for it :-)

I figure a serving is about 1/10 of the whole recipe, and it has: 

8g   carbohydrate
2g   dietary fiber
6g   protein



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Shampoo and Conditioner

It's been a while, but I have posted reviews of products that I have been able to try (free!) as a BzzAgent.  My most recent campaign was for Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Shampoo AND conditioner. Garnier sent me a full-sized sample of each, with the only string attached being that I have to share my honest experience.  So... here goes!

I've used Garnier Fructis products before - usually alternating between it and whichever Herbal Essences product tickles my fancy.  Up until I received my BzzKit, I was using an Herbal Essences set, and was pretty pleased.  I've been using Triple Nutrition for about a month now, and DO notice some improvement, though.

Triple Nutrition is for "dry, damaged hair."  I don't consider my hair especially dry OR damaged, although I do tend to get split ends... that's mostly from my bad habit of NEVER getting it trimmed, though, I think  ;c)  I use a blow dryer and curling/flat iron maybe 3-4 times a week...  If I wash my hair in the morning, I obviously HAVE to blow dry it.  Before Triple Nutrition, my freshly blow-dried hair had some major, ugly, flighty volume... which I HAD to use an iron to tame.  The ONE big difference since switching shampoo/conditioner is that this doesn't happen!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can use fewer damaging heat products on my hair!!!  In this way, Triple Nutrition seems like a double-whammy: makes my hair healthier, so that I can damage it less!  Totally awesome!  

Something Garnier is very proud of right now is their new eco-friendly packaging.  From their website: "We're getting greener! New designed bottle made of PET, the most widely recycled plastic contains 30% recycled material." In addition to the formula of the contents, I'm also supposed to review the packaging, sooo... 

Guys, it's a bottle.  I like the earth... it's been good to me, you know?  But when it comes to picking a shampoo, the plastic content of the bottle is pretty low on my list of considerations.  All other things being equal, I'll pick the eco-friendly bottle, but I'm not going out of my way or paying major extra money just to get a greener bottle.  I know there are people for whom this is a big deal, but there are sooo many really important causes.  I choose to devote my time, energy and money to others.  The cap of my condition bottle broke off pretty quickly... it may or may not be a function of the kind of plastic used, but again... whatever.  It's a bottle.

I'm not going to tell you that Triple Nutrition is going to change your life.  But it's a good, reasonably inexpensive shampoo and conditioner.  Next time you're looking to change it up a bit (that's healthy for hair, right?), and you have a Garnier coupon, go for it! 


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Love My Marble Rolling Pin

This will not be nearly as long a review as my paring knife review... just wanted to say that I LOVE my marble rolling pin!  

I've been making sugar cookies all the time now, because it's just not NEARLY as big a pain in the tushy as it used to be!  This thing weighs a ton, and it does all the work of rolling... I just have to direct it. :c)  Then, clean up is a piece of cake (or cookie, lol)... just some water and a wipedown.  It doesn't splinter or get all funky like a wooden pin, or get mildewy like the plastic, water-filled kind.  And I really can't over-emphasize how much easier the weight makes rolling stuff!  

And it wasn't expensive AT ALL!  If you like to bake, and hate rolling dough... you should totally treat yourself to one of these!  


Monday, May 7, 2012

A Joyful Heart?

I made myself a necklace the other day... I had bought the pendant several months ago - I think it even made the move from Ohio - and knew what I wanted to do with it, but was holding out for the perfect large round link.  I had had these word charms before, but the only one I still have says "discipline" and I wasn't sure that was the message I wanted next to this pendant.  I mean, it's lovely, and would be great for, say, a keychain to your gym locker... anyway.  When my set was full, it included the word "Love" which would be the obvious choice to go with a heart pendant.  I happened upon the same set at Michaels last week, then saw that there was another card on the next peg with the same kind of charm, and noted that "Discipline" was not included in THIS pack... Woo!  I'll take that one!  Got it home, "Love" is also not included.  Facepalm!

So, with "Love" no longer an option, I chose the ring that said "Joy" and made my necklace. As I sat and looked at the finished product, I got a little sentimental.  

I decided that I really like the loose symbolism here... while my heart may be blue (and heavy), I need to remember not to let that steal my joy.  Joy through trials.  When I showed it to Ethan, he said simply, "Oh.  A joyful heart," with a soft little smile.  We had a moment. 

Because, frankly, our hearts both ache, although we have plenty of reasons to be joyful.  My diabetes doctor is being uncooperative with my fertility specialist... the fertility specialist wants to put me on Metformin, but the diabetes doc claims that there is no research to support that move, and that Metformin is dangerous for Type 1 diabetics.  Even though I have searched the medical journal databases and found ample and current research to suggest that Type 1s CAN be insulin resistant as well as insulin dependent and Metformin CAN be used to break that resistance.  

Warning, TMI:  Until about a week ago, I hadn't had an unprovoked period since my surgery in December.  I skipped January, used Provera to start in February, skipped March, used Provera again in April, then FIVE DAYS after I quit in April, I started again and had ANOTHER FULL period.  Yeah, two full periods in three weeks.  It was spiffy.  So now I fret that my fertility is even worse off than it was pre-op, because I almost never skipped periods before, and CERTAINLY never had more than one in a month.  We both have had some bloodwork recently, and we're waiting on the results... which could have a major impact on where we go from here.  Waiting is hard.  Finances are hard - did you know insurance almost never pays a dime for fertility stuff?  We're lucky - ours pays a tiny bit.  As in, about the amount of this bloodwork.  Yeah.  People get pregnant "accidentally" all the time... we're gonna break the bank to do it.  Sometime I wonder if Ethan and I shouldn't go out to a bar and pretend to be strangers... he can pick me up and we can get naughty in the parking lot or behind some bleachers.  Seems to work for "everybody else." 

It's so easy to let bitterness creep in.  Even easier, and sneakier, though... is the sadness.  Sometimes, I'm just going about my routine, and notice that I'm about to cry.  Or I find that my heart keeps dwelling on all of the things I want to do with and for my children.  I want to decorate a nursery... and start a big, awesome library... I wish these Provera cramps were baby flutters or even morning sickness.  

I'm having one of those days today.  But I keep reaching for my necklace and reminding myself of all the reasons to be joyful.  I'm God's beloved... and Ethan's, too.  We had a wonderful weekend of "us" time... with the semester finally ending, his stress level is falling a lot, so we just cuddled and teased and giggled all weekend.  It was blissful :c)  I worked for a few hours yesterday, and was in my element... helping kids make memory wire bracelets for Mother's Day.  I love my job, I love kids, and I love beading and crafty conversation.  When I got home, my husband and my puppy were both thrilled to see me.  I'm blessed.  And, despite, a blue and hurting heart, I WILL be joyful.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: Kuhn Rikon Colori Paring Knives

I just wanted to write a quick review today of a product I am loving!  

We bought a cheap-cheap-cheap set of Walmart paring knives, and they... work.  But as much as I cook and bake, I wanted something a little sharper and sturdier.  When one of the girls at Our Best Bites mentioned that they used Colori Paring Knives by Kuhn Rikon, I looked them up.  They're definitely a bit pricier than Walmart knives, but they have been wonderful so far!  I can literally peel a potato so closely that the peel is transparent.  Seriously.  Awesome.  I got mine on Amazon - they're around the same price as on their website, and Super Saver shipping was free since I bought three.

The blade is carbon, and is super-slippery.  Stuff just sliiiides right off, and while I didn't realize that sticking was an issue with knives - it totally never occurred to me to dislike my old knives because they weren't nonstick - I can definitely say that it is WONDERFUL to have nonstick knives. They are smooth and clean up really quickly.

The blades don't wobble... they're nice and thick and sturdy, and extend up the length of the grip as well.  They're also a little bit longer than other paring knives I've had or used, and I love them for that!  Eventually, I may add more knives from this company to my collection, but for now my paring knives chop veggies, slice potatoes, and de-fat raw meat.  

The two features that made me choose this brand over any other higher-end knife were the blade guards and... um... the fact that they come in colors.  Drawer space is at a premium here, so my knives are in, loose, with the rest of the silverware... and I feel much better about rifling through the drawer knowing that these puppies are sheathed!  And I bought them in red and black (the same colors as most of the rest of our utensils) annnnnd light pink.  Because I'm me. :c)  Kuhn Rikon suggests using the color variety to color code what you're cutting and avoid cross-contamination... but I mostly just like that they're pretty!

I will say that there is a slight downside to these knives. Well, more specifically, with graduating to "big girl cutlery."  They're sharp, and I can't handle them the way I handled my cheapies.  My poor fingers have been suffering from my learning curve, haha!  I haven't really had much experience with higher-end knives, so I can't compare Kuhn Rikon to any of the other big names, but I CAN definitely say that if you are looking for reasonably inexpensive knives that are sturdy, pretty multi-taskers, the Colori knife by Kuhn Rikon is an excellent choice! 


Friday, April 27, 2012

No-Bake, Super-Delish S'Mores Treats

This is one of our favorite easy dessert recipes.  It requires very little measuring, very little time, and very few ingredients.  I like to make them in a cupcake pan so that they're individual portions, and easy to toss into a baggie for a packed lunch.  

Here's the recipe... make them.  You will NOT regret this!  Unless you're on a diet.  Then you may regret it just a little bit, but the yumminess will make up for it.  Promise :c)

4T butter
1 10oz bag of Marshmallows
1 box Golden Grahams Cereal
1C chocolate chips. 

Make these exactly like Rice Krispie Treats:  Melt the butter, add the marshmallows.  Stir until melted smooth.  Remove from heat, stir in cereal, then stir in chocolate chips.  Then, either press them into a greased 9x13 pan, or scoop globs into a greased muffin pan, and press down firmly.  You WILL get messy.  :c) 



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sweet Springtime!

I have been a baking FIEND lately!  Thanks in large part to Pinterest, I have all these tasty ideas rolling around in my head... happily, in the past couple of weeks, some of those ideas have been rolling around in my belly instead! 

Tomorrow is Administrative Professionals' Day, and I had been wanting to do something kinda nice for the administrative assistant for Ethan's department.  She's been a real sweetheart to Ethan and to me, and does a magnificent job holding the department together.  First thing I learned as a substitute teacher: if I don't know, and the teacher next door doesn't know, ask Mrs. Mills (the main office secretary)... Mrs. Mills knows EVERYTHING.  What would any school, company, etc do without these people!?!?  But I digress.

I was looking for flat baking sheets on the cheap for another project, and the cheapest I found came with two cookie cutters.  I needed two sheets, so I got two identical sets of (legit ADORABLE) cookie cutters.  I decided to bake up a big plate of sugar cookies using one set of cutters, decorate them, wrap them, and tie the unused set of cutters to the package.  

As ALWAYS, I used the sugar cookie recipe from the lovely ladies at Our Best Bites.  It is amazing and versatile.  I used some dough in my cookie pop molds and made a half dozen "deep-dish-ish" cookies that were fluffy and flaky and buttery fabulosity... kinda like those Lofthouse cookies that have the whipped icing and sprinkles?  But for the cookies I cut and iced, I rolled the dough pretty thin, and got crisp, rich buttery fabulosity.  Same dough, two different styles of cookie, tastes like two different but equally fabulous recipes. 

I also used their glacé icing as a jumping-off point for my icing... but I was running pretty low on powdered sugar, so I did a bit of random tweaking.  It's a very tweakable recipe :c)  I whipped out my Wilton gel food color... I love this stuff!  I measure it with a toothpick, and the colors are SO vibrant without goofing up the consistency I worked so hard to perfect in my icing :c)  I used a couple of basic decorator tips, and a nifty saran-wrap trick to reuse my disposable decorator bags...

Without further ado:  

Happy Springtime, y'all!


PS: Please don't forget this... you can vote everyday, and I will be eternally grateful :c)  Thank you <3

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